The Delbert W. Johnson Prostate Cancer Symposium at The Wistar Institute: Understanding Prostate Cancer Risk, Prevention, and Treatment in African-American Men

The Delbert W. Johnson Prostate Cancer Symposium at The Wistar Institute: Understanding Prostate Cancer Risk, Prevention, and Treatment in African-American Men

February 9, 2007

(PHILADELPHIA - February 10, 2007) - The Delbert W. Johnson Prostate Cancer Symposium, an all-day symposium for invited members of the public to raise awareness of prostate cancer risk, prevention, and treatment in African-American men, will be held at The Wistar Institute on Wednesday, February 21, 2007. The event aims to confront the fact that African-American men are at substantially greater risk for developing prostate cancer than other population groups. They are also more likely to die from their disease.

"The prostate-cancer statistics for African-American men are alarming," says Jerry L. Johnson, chairman of Radnor Trust Company, Radnor, PA, and chair of the organizing committee for the symposium. "Knowledge is power, however, and that's what this symposium is about. African-American men and those who love them need to know the facts about prostate cancer. They need to know that regular screenings can detect the disease in its earliest stages when it is most treatable, and advanced new therapies are available to effectively treat the disease."

"Recent years have seen a remarkable increase in our knowledge about cancer," notes Russel E. Kaufman, M.D., president and CEO of The Wistar Institute, a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. "More than ever before, we can speak with confidence about the causes of cancer, how to detect it, and how best to treat it. With prostate cancer, while we now know that African-American men are at increased risk for developing the disease, we can also offer a powerful array of new tests and treatment options to help patients fight their cancer, with more in development all the time."

Despite the fact that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, research on the disease has been relatively neglected in the past, Kaufman says. The good news, however, is that it is now getting a more appropriate level of attention.

At the symposium, leading researchers and clinicians from across the country will share the latest scientific and clinical information concerning prostate cancer in African-American men. Among those presenting are:

Matthew L. Freedman, M.D., cancer genetics researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. His group last year identified a region of the genome associated with elevated prostate cancer risk in African-American men. Among the findings: African-American men under the age of 55 who inherit a specific DNA segment from their African ancestors are more than twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as other men.

Thomas A. Farrington, prostate cancer survivor and author of Battling the Killer Within and Winning, an account of his encounter with the disease. Mr. Farrington founded the non-profit Prostate Health Education Network in Boston to focus on the urgent and unmet prostate education and awareness needs of African-American men.

Gordon L. Grado, M.D., founder and medical director of the Southwest Oncology Center and the Grado Radiation Center of Excellence in Scottsdale, AZ. Dr. Grado has been a leader in developing brachytherapy for prostate cancer, in which small radioactive "seeds" are implanted in the prostate to selectively kill the cancer cells.

David I. Lee, M.D., chief of urology at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Lee is one of the world's most experienced practitioners of minimally invasive robotic surgery for prostate cancer.

David W. Speicher, Ph.D., professor and co-leader of the Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program at The Wistar Institute. Dr. Speicher is developing an early detection blood test for prostate cancer. Such a test would look for multiple markers of early prostate cancer in the blood and would be a marked improvement on the current PSA test.

Also speaking at the symposium will be Arthur L. Stokes, M.D., a member of Wistar's Board of Trustees and of the organizing committee for the Delbert W. Johnson Prostate Cancer Symposium, which honors the late Delbert W. Johnson, a prostate cancer survivor and supporter of cancer research, as well as the brother of organizing committee chair Jerry L. Johnson.

For more information about the symposium, please contact Lucy Provost at The Wistar Institute: 215-898-3955 or (Reporters and editors please contact Franklin Hoke at 215-898-3716 or

The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research, with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the country, Wistar has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the creation of the rubella vaccine that eradicated the disease in the U.S., rabies vaccines used worldwide, and a new rotavirus vaccine approved in 2006. Wistar scientists have also identified many cancer genes and developed monoclonal antibodies and other important research tools. Today, Wistar is home to eminent melanoma researchers and pioneering scientists working on experimental vaccines against flu, HIV, and other diseases. The Institute works actively to transfer its inventions to the commercial sector to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. The Wistar Institute: Today's Discoveries - Tomorrow's Cures. On the web at